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Putting an end to hypersexualization

Hypersexualization: a word that has been on everybody’s lips for a number of years. But what does it actually mean? How can we affirm that a person is hypersexualized?

Attachment insecurity is linked to sexualized attitudes.

Audrey Brassard, a researcher in the Department of Psychology at Université de Sherbrooke, carried out research to address two concerns: the lack of tools for measuring hypersexualization and the lack of studies on hypersexualization among young adults.

She and her team developed the Adult Hypersexualization Questionnaire (AHQ), which measures six dimensions of hypersexualization:

  • Over-investment in a sexualized appearance, i.e. an excessive concern with making oneself desirable;
  • Sexual objectification, leading an individual to use his or her body as a sexual object to obtain benefits;
  • Sexualized discourse;
  • Seduction;
  • Performance-based sexuality;
  • Lack of intimacy in sex, i.e. a failure to associate sexuality with intimacy, loving feelings or commitment.

After getting 872 men and women between the ages of 18 and 29 to complete the questionnaire, the researcher came up with some nuanced findings. For example, the fact that the young adults have an extremely sexualized discourse emerges as a generally positive asset that allows them to communicate their sexual needs and preferences to their partners.

The other five dimensions are associated with lower sexual and relationship satisfaction, especially when present in excess. In addition, attachment insecurity, characterized by a fear of abandonment or of losing one’s spouse, is linked to sexualized attitudes.

To date, the results have been presented at conferences and to professionals working in schools and hospitals, as well as to couples in difficulty. The findings suggest that the derogatory term “hypersexualization” should perhaps be abandoned in favour of “sexualized attitudes among adults” and a more nuanced approach to the issue.